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Sport Federation gearing up for Pan-Am Games

sport_fedPHILIPSBURG—Track and field, swimming, basketball, judo, soccer, volleyball and  table tennis have been selected by the St. Maarten Sports Federation as the seven key sports the Island will target to compete in at the Pan American games by 2018.
  “In order to qualify for the games a country must participate in five sports at the championship level for several years in a row,” explained federation president Aartwichgt Bell.  He was addressing a meeting of the Federation membership at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex Saturday.
  The meeting was called to update membership of the progress being made to launch the St. Maarten Promising Athletes (SPA) 2015 – 2020 project. A total of 15 sports organizations attended.
   The program calls for the identification of talented athletes, both male and female, from the seven sport disciplines and the implementation of a sport scholarship to fund and prepare high-performance athletes, with the goal of leading St.  Maarten to qualify for the Youth, CAC and Pan-American Games starting in 2018.
  St. Maarten athletes use to compete internationally via the Netherlands Antilles Olympic Committee (NAOC).  However, NAOC was dissolved with the Antilles break up in 2010.  Since then the Sport Federation has been helping local sport association convert to federations and then join their sport’s international governing body.
  St. Maarten cannot join the International Olympic Committee even though it has country status, as the Friendly Island utilizes Dutch passports.
    Thus the Sport Federation joined the Caribbean Olympic Committee and is working toward establishing a pathway for local athletes to break into international events governed by Olympic Rules.
  The program is slated to launch by the end of October with the first teams competing at the Caribbean and Central American Championships in 2016. Before the launch, the Federation in conjunction with the University of St. Martin will conduct a three-module, 60 plus hour coaching course.
   “We are not leaving out any of our member sports,” said Bell.  “We are working with all members that seek our help. But we have targeted these seven as they seemed the furthest along and most ready to compete internationally. “

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